At this point, we all know what to expect from Empire. It is hyper-melodramatic pop art, a guilty pleasure where characters aren't expected to behave like actual humans as much as they're expected to contribute tweetable moments to keep the timeline buzzing. Cookie is going to wear fierce alphets and say even fiercer, yass worthy one-liners, like describing Lucious Lyon as a tampon. But on tonight's episode, (the fourth of the season, titled "Poor Yorick," because Empire episode titles are a thing of faux-Shakespearean beauty in case you haven't noticed) Cookie, via series creator Danny Strong's script, may have gone too far.
"If I die in police custody, I did not commit suicide," Cookie yells theatrically to no one in particular as she's hauled off by the cops. This isn't the first time a meta-reference to police brutality current events has been made this season—and we're only on the fourth episode. But Cookie's canny co-opting of the Black Lives Matter movement felt appropriately cynical and just the right amount of absurd, gorilla suits indeed. But an unmistakably ripped from the headlines reference, as a mere throwaway line meant to elicit yasss retweets? Feels way too fucking soon, guys.
The brief glimpses of a despondent Cookie in jail, actually wishing for death, do much more to highlight the apprehension that she'll always have towards any type of holding cell. The line is unnecessary, nakedly aimed at provoking social media. And as written by a white guy on a show that can at times seem negatively exploitative (or rather, a negative and laughably dated refection) of rap culture and by an inherent extension, black culture, it casually furthers those arguments instead of dispelling them. I hate the outrage machine that the internet can sometimes be, and I'm sure some of you will think im just contributing to it, but you're capable of doing better than this, Empire.